In the last couple of years, following the introduction of the BMW X5, a new class of automobiles has emerged: the performance utility vehicle. Cadillac's recent introduction, the SRX, looks like nothing else on the road, and it really does drive like the really big car that it is. Simply, the SRX offers the perks of the SUV experience, heightened stance, visibility, and cargo space, with the butter-like, responsive drive of your gray-haired father's DeVille. Also, the SRX is no baby Escalade. It won't likely play to the rap stars and professional athletes (or the apathetic teenagers who worship them), so don't expect it to be swarmed with writhing, bikini-clad models in any forthcoming music videos.
The available 4.6-liter Northstar V-8 with variable valve timing, which is good for 320 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque, adds a taste of a vintage Cadillac cruiser to a thoroughly modern vehicle that hauls tail as well as it hauls cargo (the base engine is Cadillac's very fine 3.6-liter DOHC V-6, also endowed with variable valve timing). With our test vehicle's optional Magnetic Ride Control and all-wheel drive (rear-wheel drive is standard), the SRX issues an almost pillowy ride and would lend itself perfectly to the longest journey. It also managed to tame Detroit's potholed and seemingly cobbled urban freeways, wafting over road imperfections instead of sending shockwaves through the passenger compartment, a trait we've noted in some of its rivals.
A squared-off rear-design affords the Cadillac both spaciousness and added visibility that is lacking in some of its more claustrophobia-inducing competitors (Infiniti's FX35/45, if we must name names). If claustrophobia is a problem, one can opt for a sunroof with a gaping opening of 5.6 square feetthe largest in its class. This feature would seemingly be as hazardous to an amateur astronomer as a center dash-mounted DVD screen could be for a cinephile.
The SRX's interior, while feature-laden and driver-friendlythe central stack positioning and its optional touch-screen navigation/audio controls are appreciatedis, in materials and assembly, a mediocre effort at bestparticularly considering the SRX will face off in the marketplace against such refined vehicles as the X5, the Lexus RX330, the Acura MDX, the Volvo XC90, and the Volkswagen Touareg. However, optional interior modifications abound, most notably the aforementioned sunroof, nav system, and XM Satellite Radio. Also, a petite third-row bench is available, bringing the seating capacity, arguably, to seven. (With a scant 24.2 inches of leg room, don't expect anyoneaside, perhaps, from small children, jockeys, and Santaland elvesto hop back there without a fight.)
This SRX demonstrates an on-road experience that exemplifies comfort. The ride quality, stance, and visibility, as well as the Northstar's exemplary power and refinement, make the SRX America's vanguard of everyday drivers. While the Escalade will remain the most sought-after Cadillac by boosters, the SRX may prove to be the most sought-after by parents in the booster club.